Thanksgiving dinner. Probably my favorite meal of the year. No, wait. I take that back. My favorite meal of the year is BY FAR the Day-After-Thanksgiving-Casserole my mom always made. (Keep an eye out for the recipe next week!) It is to DIE for! And truly, as I make Thanksgiving dinner each year, I make sure to take into account the leftovers I will need for that casserole. And then, for the next 3 days, I eat pumpkin pie for breakfast and leftover casserole for lunch and dinner. Mmmm.
But one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving feast is the stuffing. I love everything else, but you can’t do without a great bread stuffing. I didn’t care for it too much growing up, probably because I wasn’t mature enough. But once I got out on my own, it became a favorite. I searched for good recipes, experimented here and there to create my own, yet couldn’t really pin down a winner.
Last year, though, not only did I create an awesome bread stuffing, but I also found a way to make it easy AND make room in the oven for other things. I can’t wait to share.
First things, I generally make my own bread crumbs by using either homemade or store bought bread, breaking it into chunks, tossing it in a glass bowl, and letting it dry for a few weeks. I toss it around to get the air circulating and by the time Thanksgiving comes around, I have enough. However, if you’re in a bind and don’t plan weeks in advance to dry your bread using that method, it also works to cut up the bread into cubes, place the cubes on a baking sheet in a warm oven (about 170-200 degrees) and let it sit for about 30 minutes. I’d stir it part way thru. You’ll achieve the same result in much less time.
What kind of bread should you use? Well, I’ve used a variety. I mix whole wheat, homemade white, and french breads to get different textures and flavors. You’ll be using 8-12 cups of bread cubes for this recipe.
Now, what about how much liquid to use? One year, the stuffing tasted great…but it was mush. I added too much liquid and couldn’t revive it. First, when you add the liquid, you want it to be moistened but not soggy. So add the liquid slowly. If you do add too much, stir it up part way thru cooking (in the oven) to allow moisture to escape. Bake it an extra 5-10 minutes (taking care not to burn it) and don’t cover it (which adds moisture).
Okay, now onto the recipe:
- 2-3 loaves bread, cubed and dried
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 ½ to 2 cups celery, diced
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 ½ Tbs parsley flakes
- 1 ½ tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp marjoram
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3-6 cups chicken broth
Sauté onion and celery in butter until tender. Add seasonings. Mix with bread cubes. Mix chicken broth into bread until moistened. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.
Now for the secret. You can make your stuffing IN A CROCKPOT! All you need to do is mix all the ingredients and add broth until slightly damp. Transfer to Crock Pot. Cover and cook 6-8 hours on low. Stir every hour. Add more broth as needed. Turn off Crockpot and let sit before serving if necessary. It can sit for a couple hours (or more!) if necessary until the rest of the dinner is ready.
Enjoy it! Look for other ways to make your Thanksgiving feast a success in days to come!